Not Everything Sucks In Korea


Yesterday morning I was greeted at random by one of the university security guards, who smiled, bowed, and offered up such a polite peace-be-upon-you that I could barely respond to him. The baby had cried a bit the night before—we’ve both caught the same terrible cold, but as usual my wife’s implacable immune system has left her completely unscathed—and I was still smarting from the wounds leftover from battling random strangers on the internet, so it was not until I found myself conversing with one of my nicer students a few hours later that I realized how foul my mood was.

Things Korea Does Better, A Good Word, And My Daily Routine

Things Korea Does Better Than America—

1) Health Care. Everyone has it. Doctors and medicine are quick and cheap. When I get sick I go to the hospital and get better fairly soon—in America I would probably have to wait most of my illnesses out.

2) Gun Control. There are no guns. Anywhere. Perhaps it’s because of this situation, or because of the homogeneity of Korean culture, but there is also nearly no gun violence. Unlike in America, there aren’t weekly shootings at schools or businesses by disgruntled students or employees. At the same time people who want to let off some steam by firing a gun can do it—or so I’ve heard.

3) Election Day. Everyone gets the day off so they can vote. America needs to do this.

4) Public Transportation. I can get from anywhere to anywhere cheaply and quickly if I don’t have a car. In America that’s definitely not the case at all.

Hoobo Blues

I was out walking last night through a very warm and pleasant Spring evening, striding along the empty streets, singing and dancing and letting my inner dionysian loose, mostly to the music of John Lee Hooker, when I suddenly discovered that election season had come to Gyeongju.

The sign reads: “Hwak! Bakkooja! Gyeongju-ai Say-Lo-Oon Seontaek 7 Kim Seokgi”

Hwak! (what the hell does hwak mean?) Let’s Change! Gyeongju’s New Choice 7 Kim Seokgi

The Adoration Of The Magi

A strange fatigue overcomes me. A pallor hangs in the gray air, under the white sky and the cigarette-colored trees.

Classes have started at the university. I was so frightened of the beginning of the semester, which was an incredible three weeks ago, but now that I have roared through all that work and time—now that I find myself with a strange sudden moment of quiet peace—I can do nothing, in my exhaustion, except think over everything that has come between then and now.

There is a blurred kaleidoscope of memory flashing through my mind, and it is almost too much for me to pick even a single image to describe. Sleep seems to annihilate most of these glimmering tears of light, and then a new day piles inside and shoves the rest of them into alcoves which I cannot access.

Amor Fati

Since moving to Korea two and a half, going on three years ago, I’ve treated my experience here as a temporary one, a first step on the way to something better, a necessary bother, and my goal had always been to get the hell out as soon as possible, and then never return, even after I married a Korean woman, and even after I found myself with a good job. I assumed consistently that almost anything else was better than the job security, family happiness, and general growing prosperity and progress I experienced here, and that it would be better to move back to America, or some other country, rather than deal with the garbage in Korea.

Photography Spots in Korea – Series IV – Korea, the true haven for photography


The fourth in our series on Photography Spots in Korea, we will uncover the true beauty of South Korea through the photographic eyes of Tarun Chopra from India. Tarun will take us through Jeju, Gyeongju, Suwon, Muuido and other interesting places in Korea.

Jeju Island

Oedolgae Rock on the shores of Sammaebong in Seougwipo City, Jeju. A beautiful 20meter high standing rock, with deep blue water surrounding it. It was a quiet calming place on the Jeju olleh Route.

The Library

A walk in the wet tar, in the rain, with my shoes and socks soaked through, and the brown furrows of rice fields drenched in mirrors—the vast cement hospital rising like a neo-Wagnerian castle out of its upside-down double, interrupted by a few rolls of sallow hay, scraps of blue tarps, shark-chewed husks of stained styrofoam. Few sidewalks on this walk. Much danger & discomfort.

In a special sort of room on the library’s first floor, beyond the beeping security turnstiles and the computers which you use, with your ID, to check out a specific chair in any one of a number of enormous reading rooms—bare, practical, fluorescent, uncomfortable affairs, guaranteed to leave you with an aching neck and back if you stay for too long—but in this special room, I sit for over three and a half hours, and write, and it is pleasant. I have not yet explored the stacks. I don’t even know where they are.

The End Of English Camp

We were exhausted yesterday morning, all the ideas drained out of us, and the kids in our English camp—more like “Extensive Expensive Small Group Long Time Private English Tutoring Sessions”—had been babbling with us in English for three hours. This was the tenth, and last, day, and although we had not taught too many new things to these children, their quiet studycat tongues had been so loosened up by our conversation activities that newcomers would surely be fooled into believing that the kids were fluent. Conversationally fluent, yes, but reading is another matter. We know how to get studious kids to talk, but the next challenge is to get studious kids to enjoy reading, something that supposedly befuddles the best of English teachers back on the Continent—the NORTH AMERICAN continent!

Gyeongju. Daylight the

Gyeongju. Daylight, the week of Lunar New Year, with the traffic grumbling along the five-lane highway for over an hour now. Break in the endless haze of January, with so much fog in the air you’d just as soon expect an army of flower knights to heave themselves up from their great grass barrows, to come charging, on their horses, over the wide sallow fields, beside all the old palaces reconstituting their molecules from the aether, pillars rising, gables curving into Eastern grins.

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